Wheeling out Austin’s Soul Food Trucks
Words by Jessica Devenyns
On the soft slops behind the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center countless people drifted among the spiced scents of the afternoon admiring vendors’ wares at the festival that promised to “season up the city’s traditional fall festival lineup.” The inaugural Soul Food Truck Fest was presented by the The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce and featured 10 central Texas African-American-owned food trucks that competed to serve up dishes and win over people’s hearts.
Curious attendees followed the intoxicating smells in lines that snaked around trucks and intersected each other. Sometimes they arrived at their intended food truck, other times they received their soulful samples with surprise. Nevertheless, nothing that appeared out of a pick-up window was greeted with a frown. From golden, deep-fried collard greens to butter-laden grits topped with slivers of green onion and blackened shrimp, the only disappointment was the size of the taste you were allotted. Each truck provided something more akin to an amuse bouche rather than a satisfying sample. Naturally, a fair number of people were persuaded into purchasing a full-sized portion to enjoy at one of the community tables lined up along the lawn.
As lines lingered and the afternoons sun slanted westward, children and adults alike slowed their purposeful zig-zagging to an amble punctuated by stops at shaded stalls to browse the arts and crafts that sat alongside clothes and kid-friendly activities.
Brightly colored fabrics were sold alongside handmade jewelry that parents fought to keep out of the sticky hands of children. More often than not the those with single digits in their age were dispatched to decorate the free cupcakes provided by the Traveling Lady Chefs. Parents traded off spending time sprawled in a massage chair under the deep shade of the Carver Museum’s roof.
As a metropolis that was voted a top city for Black-owned small businesses, it’s unsurprising that all except two of the food vendors attending the festival were based in Austin. And no two were alike. Chefs at the festival specialized in the secrets of soul, Cajun, Southern comfort, and BBQ.
The two food trucks that came from regions other than Central Texas were Down South Texas BBQ from Killeen and Willie Mae’s Soul Food & More from San Antonio. Austin options included Krab Kingz IV, The Rolling Rooster, Emojis Grilled Cheese Bar, Krack of Dawn Donuts & Cafe’, My Granny’s Kitchen, Dirty Glove Midwest Barbeque LLC., and The HashBurg.